Missouri wraps up fall camp Thursday with its third and final scrimmage of at Memorial Stadium.
It’s the Tigers’ final tune-up before entering game week in preparation for the Sept. 5 season opener against Southeast Missouri.
“It’s our last opportunity to kind of go live and everything be functioning just like it would in a game,” Tigers offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “Really, what I’m looking for is just consistent execution. I know I say that every year and it sounds like a broken record, but it’s just the truth.”
Missouri’s passing game, which floundered throughout spring practice, has generated a bevy of big plays.
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“We, at times, look great and we, at times, don’t look so great right now,” Henson said. “You’re trying to make your mishits not go out of bounds, but hit the edge of the fairway, so that’s what we’re looking for — consistent execution and just hoping that we can get out there and play well and make plays.”
The rapid rise of the Tiger’s young receiving corps has been a massive positive during fall camp along with solid play from the first-string offensive line and the quarterback performances, including extremely impressive play from true freshman Lee’s Summit graduate Drew Lock.
If there’s a concern, the running game has yet to flash much big-play ability.
“Some of it is we haven’t ran (senior) Russell (Hansbrough) as much as we want, but some of it is that a lot of our things are reads and it’s kind of what the defense has given us …,” Henson said. “I feel good about it. Can we still improve and do we have work to do? Yes, but I felt like game one last year to game six we got a lot better. We’ve got to continue to do that again this year.”
The defense’s goals are similar.
“I want us to be sharp mentally,” defensive coordinator Barry Odom said. “We’ll play physical. The foundations of what we talked about every day with our defense, I want those to be game ready. (The scrimmage) is a chance to get some guys in the arena before the game next Saturday, so we’re excited to see those components come together.”
As good as MU’s offense feels about the big plays in the passing game during fall camp, the defense knows it has plenty to shore up.
“I worry about everything — stopping the zone-read, defending the post and every aspect of it,” Odom said. “We’ve gotten better. We’ve gotten better every day, and we’re gonna continue to get better and work. I like our guys. I like the way were working. I’m excited to be where we are at this point, and I’m excited to get up tomorrow and come in and try to make us better.”
There’s a quiet confidence about Odom that Missouri’s defense won’t miss a beat after establishing itself as the backbone of back-to-back SEC East division titles the last two seasons.
“After 18 practices playing ball, as a defensive staff, we’re always working to get better, but we know what we have,” Odom said. “We know our strengths and we know our limitations. We know there’s a lot better we can get, and we’re going to do it. From there, it’s get better and play better the next week and on down the line … (but) I’m excited about the group that we have to work with.”